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May 19, 2009 - 1:03pm

Batavia Daily News picking fight with Jason Molino over fire chief story

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Daily News, Jason Molino.

The Batavia Daily News seems intent on teaching City Manager Jason Molino a little lesson after getting scooped on Fire Chief Tom Dillon's resignation. The lesson: Don't fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.

Friday, Batavia's "paper of record" published an editorial slamming what they called City Manager Jason Molino's secrecy.

It was pretty harsh.

City administrator Jason Molino, isn't talking, and neither are ''his'' employees -- we say "his" because that is how he refers to them, even though taxpayers pay their salaries.

In the editorial, they say Dillon's resignation became public only because a help wanted ad was spotted in the Democrat and Chronicle. That's not, shall we say, accurate.

The Batavian broke the story and it had nothing to do with an ad appearing in the D&C. If you read the original post, you'll see, we didn't even know about the ad when we first posted our story. We got the story the good old-fashioned way -- by talking with sources.

Of course, the Daily can't give credit where credit's due -- that would violate Tom Turnbull's mandate that the newspaper never print The Batavian's name (well, they did have to take our LLC ad).

Yet, the staff there pays attention when we get stories before them, and the Dillon scoop seems to have particularly rubbed the "newspaper of record" the wrong way.

Today, the lead story is about the fire chief but it doesn't tell readers much new. We already know that Molino would handle interim administrative duties for the department and that the four captains turned down the interim position. That takes care of the first two paragraphs of the story. From there, we're treated to the details of the Daily trying to get more information from the city and Molino's unresponsiveness.

The Daily News had asked City Manager Jason Molino what the city's plan was in lieu of a chief. He did not return phone calls or e-mails. Cox forwarded questions from The Daily News to Molino, who then sent a reply to all councilmen. He still has not replied to The Daily News.

After explaining the 211 waiver situation (again, nothing new here), we get more back-and-forth on the Daily's attempts to get more information from the city. Then we read again the fiction that the public wouldn't have known about the situation if the Daily hadn't asked:

The Daily News had also sent an e-mail last week to all City Councilmen to find out why the public was kept in the dark about Dillon's departure. The news was publicized only after The Daily News asked Molino and Dillon about Dillon's employment status.

Now, I can certainly sympathize with the editorial staff's frustration at getting shut out of communication with Jason Molino and city staff. We've made those complaints public ourselves, and perhaps with a tad too much arrogance and pettiness, but some honest reporting is in order here. The Daily got beat. It happens in a competitive news town. Between the Daily, The Batavian and WBTA, we've all had our own scoops in the past several months, and we will all continue to develop our own sources and stories and get some of them first. That's the way it goes. Unless a source deliberately burns you, there's no point in getting upset with government officials because another news outlet did its job and got the information.

UPDATE: I just saw the print edition -- this story is banner headline on the top of the front page.  Meanwhile, Pagent of the Bands folding after 35 years, and the Daily put most of that story below the fold. That's a huge story in a community like this.  Nice scoop. Wish I had it.

Bea McManis
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Knowing little to nothing about the newspaper business, I can't help but ask why Tom mandated that TheBatavian.com not be mentioned in the Daily News - to the point of taking out a mention in a PAID ad? Is there a back story? In this day and age where the lines are very blurred from one entity to the other including shared reporter and photography pools, what purpose is there to ignore the fact that an online service exists in Genesee Co.? Does Tom mandate go as far as not mentioning WBTA too? The Daily News may be the paper of record, but it falls short of being the ONLY place where local news is available.
Howard B. Owens
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We're a start-up, and viewed as a competitor with the ability to take revenue away from the Daily. Mentioning us would risk people find out about The Batavian.
Gabor Deutsch
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Its pretty much two words; affiliation and competition. The Daily News paper even shelled out for a color ad. Cant we all just get along and share. I think thebatavian is an interactive newspaper and all it costs me is my participation. I still support "the daily news" not online but my saturday paper. I enjoy it enuff but I really want more coupons !
Karen Miconi
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Aunt Bea, {may I call you that}? This stuff just stirs my interest. I think we all want some answers. I think everyone should be working together to report the news. I guess its just a matter of doing the right thing, and being able to sleep at night. Reporting the news, has to be very rewarding for the reporters. What does it matter, paper, internet, Ijust want to hear the real deal. Avoidance, the first human responce!
daniel cherry
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Howard i thoughroughly enjoyed this story.It is great!!This is the news should be.I bet Philip would be proud.I have written the Daily about very controversial subjects.They called me and said i need a lawyers permission to write it.They sent it back.No lie last year about this time.I am glad.In my opinion the news should tell the truth.And it is hidden from citizens.If we are to have change we need to know the truth...peace dan
Richard Gahagan
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Hot news scoop Andy resigned and Barney don't want the job cause he likes to abuse overtime and the city lets him get away with it.
Donna Jackett
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In my opinion, which isn't worth much anyway, is that the job should have been given to a current fireman. After all, these firemen have worked for their city for years, then an outsider comes in, (just like Molino) no loyalty.
daniel cherry
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Donna i agree.That's just plain W wrong
Thomas Mooney
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Mr. Gahagen , you are right . There is no interest in the Chief of the Fire Dept. from within because of the abused overtime . Can you imagine making more in overtime than in your base salary ? Along with the required time off the firemen get so they can be fresh for work . The only problem is most of the firemen have second jobs when they are not at the firehouse . Guess what most of them even take a nap when first arrive on duty or maybe they watch the Playboy channel like the firemen did at the Ellicott street firehouse . Firemen run the city and Molino now runs the Firemen . For every structure that burns in Batavia and isn't rebuilt , doesn't that equate to less need for firemen. Over the past thirty years , thats a lot less firemen needed .Real firemen ARE VOLUNTEERS!!!!
John Roach
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You may not like the overtime, but it is in their contract, agreed to by all parties. As for volunteers being the only “real fireman”, that has to be one of the stupidest things ever posted here. Full or part time, that’s a dangerous job and not everyone can, or will, do it. Look around at how few people will even volunteer to be a fireman anymore. If Mr. Mooney is or was a volunteer, hats off to him and thanks for his service, but that was still stupid to badmouth paid professional firemen just because you don’t like their contract. By the way, are any of you suggesting that rather than pay overtime, the city hire another captain? Which would cost less, overtime or a new hire with all benefits?
Bea McManis
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Posted by John Roach about 52 minutes ago By the way, are any of you suggesting that rather than pay overtime, the city hire another captain? Which would cost less, overtime or a new hire with all benefits? I've suggested that in several posts. In the end, it would give them the resources to cover the hours now covered in overtime. One more person would eliminate the need for overtime.
Howard B. Owens
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Would one more person eliminate the cost of overtime? So in the middle of fighting a fire that ended just before a shift change, the new captain would take over? Or after a long day of training and maybe a fire another emergency call or two, the on-duty captain hasn't completed his paperwork, but he just knocks off at quitting time anyway? Another captain might not eliminate as much overtime as you might think. I really don't think these guys are sitting around watching ESPN all day. There's plenty to keep them busy even when not on emergency calls. While I'm not going to go so far as to say that all the overtime is justified, I also doubt it is as clear cut an issue as some make it seem.
Dave Meyer
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Mr. Roach is absolutely correct about the current firemens' union contract. There are apparently "minimum staffing rules" that were "agreed to by all parties" and those rules allow - in fact they must just about mandate the abuse of overtime to the point where a fire captain can make $114000 a year. I'd personally like to know who the nincompoop was who was negotiating that deal on the side of the city, because as we've seen that deal has cost the city a very fine ambulance service and it's cost the firemen's union a significant portion of its membership. Oh, the firemen who remain will still be raking in the overtime, but their brethren who were part of the ambulance service will be out of a job...or at least no longer their union brethren. But what the hell?! I got mine!! What's the lesson here? The city would do well to pay closer attention to the details in future union contract negotiations and the unions would do well to learn from what has happened as a result of their past negotiations.
Fred GUNDELL
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Overtime seems to be the Issue, not replacing the Fire Chief. Seems easy to fix. Stop the overtime. Review what is cauing the overtime and fix it!! Why would firemen require overtime anyways? Unless of course they are doing what we pay them for, saving lives ,and fighting fires. Both of which they do an outstanding job. But overtime??? How about an on "call status" for emergencies if additional help is required?? But an overall reviem is needed to stop the bleeding of TAx dollars in our community.

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